Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My life as a DJ and Record Collector (Part V)

At the end of part IV, the name Sam "ALL JAM" was given to me and I actually started playing records at some parties.

While in high school my last two years from '78-'80 a phenomenon took place that would impact me greatly. A new genre of music that would eventually come to be known as Hip-Hop was born. While 'Rapper's Delight' by The Sugarhill Gang is what brought it to light in 1979, it was The Fatback Band's 'King Tim III (Personality Jock)' (off this LP pictured below) released in '78 that is universally known as the first "rap" record.

This music spread like wildfire and before you knew it, rappers/m.c.'s were everywhere. Even I, along with Bobby Konders and two other friends Paulie 'Dr. Watts' Watson and Anibal 'Aniba G' Garcia had formed a short-lived rap crew called 'The Emcee Fearsome Foursome'. However, while I enjoyed spitting rhymes, my heart was behind the decks as a DJ. There was one problem though, I had no decks to speak of; not yet anyway.

Upon graduating high school I attended East Stroudsburg State College, now known as East Stroudsburg University. While there my music knowledge and DJ skills expanded. Meeting people from Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and beyond just increased my love for music. Upperclassmen Bruce Parsons 'The Master of Sound' and Brent Hawthorne 'The Night Cruiser' out of Philly served as mentors both musically and on the DJ side as they both inserted me as a freshman into their "Black Sunday" rotation on the college radio station WESS; this eventually would later become 'Chocolate Sunday'.

Meanwhile I, along with fellow freshmen Randall 'Rannie Ran' Lassiter from Paterson, NJ, Larry 'Larry G' Lingard from Brooklyn, NY and Michael 'P-Boy' Pittman from Philadelphia had formed our own little DJ crew called 'Sound on Sound'. The sounds came from my first DJ system that I put together piece by piece; first were the turntables.

I had saved up enough money from a summer job and on campus job to buy a pair of Technics D1's from 'Funk-O-Mart' in Philly. I talked the owner into throwing in the cartridges with the sale, so together they only cost me about $150 total. Then I bought an MP-80 Realistic Amp/Mixer from Radio Shack for less than $100; the mixer was built in, so that was two pieces for the price of one.

Then I came upon a used Realistic equalizer someone was selling in the paper for $20 and finally I came across a pair of used tower/column speakers, which a furniture store in Stroudsburg was selling for $100 and that was my first system. As for DJ skills, that was something else that came with the advent of Hip-Hop.

Grand Wizard Theodore of The Fantastic Romantic Five created a thing we now know as scratching and Grandmaster Flash of The Furious Five cultivated it. Both of these pioneering legends were featured on two iconic records that I bought way back then called 'Live Convention '81' and 'Live Convention '82'. (Note the black tape on the label, which was something DJ's would do back then, so people wouldn't know what you were playing when you first got it.)

Of course I started to practice my own scratching skills, but I readily admit that they were low level till I met my other brother from another mother during my sophomore year. While spinning a party on campus for incoming freshmen, this guy with Spalding sunglasses and British Walker shoes comes up and asks if he can look through my record crates. As he flips through the crates he quickly pulls out a new record I had just bought and asked if I could play it; that record was 'Showdown' by The Sugarhill Gang meets The Furious Five.

That brother's name was DJ Mitch originally of 'The System 4' crew from Hempstead, NY; he is currently DJ Mitch 'The People Pleeezer' on WBLS in NYC. We quickly became friends and eventually roommates. It was Mitch's scratching that made me realize I needed to step up my game, which I eventually did.

It was these skills developed while I was away at school that put me ahead of the curve when I came back home to Bethlehem. Truth is, at that time in the early '80's, there was no one around my way that could cut and scratch on that level; I'm not tooting my own horn, it's a fact. That came from hanging and learning from brothers like DJ Mitch, Larry G etc.

So with these skills intact and Bobby Konders also spinning back home we decided to form our own crew. Thus, in 1982 'Dynamic Deuce Disco' was born and that summer we broke out in a big way. From that point forward, Bobby and I (pictured above) rocked many parties and dances all over the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

On top of that, we were always on the cutting edge musically. Club music, Freestyle, House and of course Hip-Hop; in the early to mid '80's we were on top of it. Then Bobby went away to school in upstate NY, which meant I would continue out on my own, which I did through the rest of the '80's and eventually '90's. The '90's however would bring the next level of spinning for me, nightclubs.

In Part VI, The Casablanca Years, Larry Holmes Ringside and I begin to take my records for granted.

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